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A Letter from Timothy Leary, Ph.D., July 17, 1961
Department of Social Relations
Center for Research in Personality
Morton Prince House
5 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge 38, Massachusetts
July 17, 1961
Dr. Thomas S. Szasz
c/o Upstate Medical School
Syracuse 10, New York
Dear Dr. Szasz:
Your book arrived several days ago. I've spent eight hours on it and realize the task (and joy) of reading it has just begun.
The Myth of Mental Illness is the most important book in the history of psychiatry.
I know it is rash and premature to make this earlier judgment. I reserve the right later to revise and perhaps suggest it is the most important book published in the twentieth century.
It is great in so many ways--scholarship, clinical insight, political savvy, common sense, historical sweep, human concern-- and most of all for its compassionate, shattering honesty.
I have already contacted several of my colleagues and intend that everyone I meet will be exposed to your work. I am in charge of the first year graduate training at this Center and while I don't believe in "required" reading I shall certainly "suggest" with enthusiasm that this book be read and re-read.
Your text states most eloquently, convincingly, systematically what a group of us here have been attempting to communicate. I have in the past published extensively on diagnosis and have come to understand the rituals and rules of that game. In the last two years we have been attempting to apply the "game" conception to behavior change ("treatment" or "rehabilitation"). We have developed a philosophy, many rules and a new language for _real-education_--i.e., helping people understand their games, planning new games, working out explicitly the rules, rituals, goals, roles of the games they select.
I wonder if there is any chance that you could pay us a visit. I'll be in Cambridge until July 25th.--and after August 23rd. If you are in New England this month I hope we can expect a visit. I should also like to invite you to come to Harvard on a consultant-lecturer basis for a couple of days in October. A day of consulting plus a department-wide lecture. Travel expenses and a consultant fee will be available if you could arrange this trip.
I'll write again in more detail about your book but in the meantime please accept my admiration and gratitude for what you have done for your profession and your times.
Thomas S. Szasz Cybercenter for Liberty and Responsibility:
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